Tag Archive for search optimisation

Raventools Scrap Search Rankings Feature

RavenToolsRavenTools just made the tough decision to remove one of their core SEO features from their digital marketing platform, they will no longer will offer Google SERP rankings and keyword data for their customers.  They have announced existing Raven Tools users will have until 5pm on the 2nd January 2013 to create final reports and export any current SERP data from their SERP Tracker before it is removed.  Beyond January a number of tools such as RavenTools SERP Tracker that rely on scrapped Google data will vanish from the RavenTools SEO features leaving many users in the dark.

Raven Tools current on page content and unique selling position almost appear to need a complete rethink as the removal of some of their core SEO functions will leave a giant whole in their product set and competitive advantage. This is a great move for Google as they have always hated SERP monitoring software and is a sign that Google is serious about making SEO less transparent following the increase number of keywords masked by (not provided).

What can RavenTools customers do?

They have created a specific page to help their users with details on how to progress beyond the 2nd of January 2013 along with a countdown to export your ranking data, but it looks bleak for many of their users that depend on their platform. While Authority Labs is the current provider of SERP data to RavenTools they are still working out a seamless way for customers to move SERP tracking from RavenTools to their platform. It will be a hard few weeks for any agencies, consultants and clients who have depended on RavenTools SERP Tracking and Ranking Reports and a chance for their API partners to rethink long term partnerships.

Why did they remove SERP Tracking features?

The “unauthorised” Google data scraped by Authority Labs and SEMRush had upset the Google AdWords API team and apparently violated the AdWords API Terms of Service.  By removing the external data they will no again gain access to authorised Google data and move their platform away from SEO and towards social, ppc, web analytics and content marketing. This move is a tough one for their customers that depend on their SEO features so it is likely they will lose a lot of customers over the decision to give up SERP tracking functionality. It seems that they found more value in AdWords data than SERP data which has certainly upset more than a few of their existing customers based on public customer feedback. It’s unclear how Google may shift the goal posts going forward and Raven Tools maybe left in no-man’s land with no keyword data if Google denies them access at some point in the future.

What about Authority Labs?

While the core technology and data is the same, many customers may discover some major differences in the Authority Labs compared to the current version of RavenTools. There will need to be an aggressive hiring of developers by Authority Labs to deal with the influx of RavenTools customers over the next 3 weeks. The big issue that existing RavenTools users have concerns about is how their current historical data will match when moving to Authority Labs. It seems that out of all the platforms for SERP Tracking Authority Labs remains the logical solution considering they were providing the keyword tracking data for RavenTools customers already.

What other options are available?

  • Advanced Web Ranking is the leading desktop platform for SERP tracking
  • Authority Labs is the current supplier of keyword data to RavenTools
  • SEMRush is one of the leading competitive intelligence platforms tracking 80 million keywords
  • SEOmoz is the largest SEO communities and SEO software platforms

What about other competitors?

There is not much else being said by other SEO software platforms SEOmoz, WordStream, Authority Labs or SEMRush on if they care about being denied access to Google AdWords API, but I’m sure some heated discussions are going in right now. There are still several leading platforms such as SEMRush that have not made a public announcement about the dramatic shift by RavenTools to depend completely on Google APIs.

Conversion Conference London Keynotes

Conversion Conference

Conversion Conference 2012 has kicked things up a gear with the announcement of two amazing keynote speakers.  Running during Data Driven Business Week, Conversion Conference is focused on acceleration of online competitiveness through best practices, smarter adoption of web analytics and discovering better methods and technologies to provide detailed insights into your customers. Some of the other amazing conferences running that week include eMetrics Marketing Optimisation Summit and Predictive Analytics World.

Prof. Wolfgang HenselerThe opening keynote is run by Professor Wolfgang Henseler of Sensory-Minds who is a recognised expert of natural user interface design, usability and user experience.  He is also a consultant to Google & Microsoft on what you will see in the next generation of interface designs.  His keynote will examine challenges the role of applications in multi-touch computing and future dimensions in user experience.

Matthew Finlay, CEO of Rising Media responded about the keynote announcement “Professor Henseler is a global expert on customer and user-oriented e-business solutions as well as a user and brand experience specialist. He is creating the blueprint for the next generation of websites and as a result is in demand by global enterprises for his expertise in human-computer design.

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We are thrilled to have Professor Henseler open this year’s conference in what promises to be a very thought provoking keynote presentation.

Nick HolzherrThe second keynote is being presented by Nick Holzherr of Whisk who has built a service to simplify the buying process for customers by converting recipes automatically into shopping lists within online supermarkets.

Matthew Finlay, CEO of Rising Media was quoted saying that “Nick is one of the UK’s most innovative young entrepreneurs and his new venture Whisk is set to change the way people do their food shopping online. The foundation for Whisk’s success lies the company’s focus on strategic conversion and delegates will see how this is being implemented in this exciting new business.

Nathalie NahaiA final speaker Nathahlie Nahai of Web Psychologist has been added as a keynote speaker for Conversion Conference London.  Nathahlie is an award-winning speaker with a background in digital strategy and psychology and one of the leading voices in her frield to have both academic and hands-on experience in online persuasion.  Nathahlie is also a member of #OglivyChange that utilisies cognitive psychology, social psychology and behavioural economics to produce behaviour interventions in real life.

Conversion Conference 2012 Pass Options

  • Two Day Conversion Conference Pass (Access to Conversion Conference sessions and Expo Hall on 27th November AND 28th November)
  • One Day Conversion Conference Pass (Access to Conversion Conference sessions and Expo Hall on 27th November OR 28th November)
  • Combo Pass eMetrics (Access to Conversion Conference & eMetrics sessions + Expo Hall)
  • Super Combo Pass (Access to eMetrics, Conversion Conference AND Predictive Analytics World sessions + Expo Hall)
  • Exhibit Hall Only Pass (Access to Exhibition Hall Only – no conference sessions)

Conference Discount & Registration

Book early for London 2012 and save with our 15% Discount Code LOSTAGENCY12  and register for conference here
Conversion Conference Venue

Business Design Centre, Islington 52 Upper Street, London N1 0QH, United Kingdom Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7359 3535 Conversion Conference Social Media Links Follow them on twitter @ConvCon, and track the 2012 conversation with hashtag #ConvCon

SEOmoz launches SEO Web Application

seomoz logoSEOmoz has finally launched their new SEO Web App today and Rand has covered the launch with a detailed post, including screenshots and a video discussing more about why it was done and what to expect next.  Some of the major points about their new web application has been listed below. Their new web application seeks to offer some of the functionality of enterprise level seo products such as Conductor offer but within the price range that consultants and SMEs can afford to automate some of their site analysis. The new seo platform seeks to leverage some of SEOmoz’s unique tools in one central platform with a long awaited update that allow you to track campaign metrics overtime to allow marketers to measure results.

SEOmoz PRO Accounts updated
The seo web app is now part of the package, and PRO members can now run unlimited Linkscape reports, where in the past they were limited to a certain number each month, larger companies and sites will likely have to look towards upgrading to PRO Elite or PRO Premier accounts to ensure they can make full use of the new SEOmoz web application.
SEO Web Application Features:
  1. Crawling to identify potential site issues
  2. Automatic Tracking of Keyword Rankings
  3. On-Page Grading & Recommendations Report Cards
  4. Link Analysis of your site and competitors
  5. One Comprehensive platform to rule them all
5 Quick Tips to Get Started with SEO Web App
  1. Import some of your top referring keywords from your web analytics
  2. Find pages that rank in the top 10-30 with low grades (Cs, Ds & Fs)
  3. Use the “grade any webpage” feature
  4. Apply labels to your keyword groups to separately track relevant data/metrics
  5. Point out crawl diagnostic issues to a friend or potential client
The site is experiencing a few initial issues with the massive influx of users wanting to test the platform, but once the server issues are resolved you all PRO members can test the SEO Web App. They are also offering a free SEOmoz webinar on the new SEO Web Application preview this Friday if you are not a PRO member and want to test their new SEO web application.

How Geocities benefits Yahoo SEO

Yahoo closed down Geocities October 2009 and now uses the page to advertise its other properties and given them a benefit with better search rankings. The amount of monthly visitors dropped significantly since the community was closed from a height of around 10-15 million each month down to around 731,000 unique visitors each month and continues to decline.

While the aspect of the closure has upset a number of people including some link brokers who lost old and trusted websites used to influence search rankings, it seems that Yahoo still continues to receive seo benefit by maintaining the domain as passing the trust to its other properties. According to SEOmoz top 500 list, the Japanese Geocities domain still ranks #369 in the world for link value.

So what is the value of the geocities domain?

  • 80,341 known and trusted backlinks from around 15,496 domains
  • 55,396 pages mentions in Wikipedia
  • 33,325 listings in Yahoo Directory
  • 72 DMOZ listings

The following 8 yahoo properties receive a large search boost because of the strength of the Geocities domain.

  • Yahoo Mail
  • News
  • Sport
  • Finance
  • Web Hosting
  • Games
  • Movies
  • Maps

The estimated total number of searches Yahoo will receive each month based on having the same results in all Bing,Yahoo & Google.

  • “eMail – 9,888,900 searches a month
  • “Mail”-  22,015,000 searches a month
  • “News”-  17,969,000 searches a month
  • “Sport”-  8,092,000 searches a month
  • “Finance”-  3,617,000 searches a month
  • “Web Hosting”-  595,000 searches a month
  • “Games”-  49,266,000 searches a month
  • “Movies”-  22,015,000 searches a month
  • “Maps”-  8,092,000 searches a month

Yahoo saving millions not buying traffic just around these generic terms each month on AdWords priced per click?

  • eMail ($2.25)
  • Mail ($3.10)
  • News ($1.65)
  • Sport ($0.92)
  • Finance ($10.90)
  • Web Hosting ($14.06)
  • Games ($0.95)
  • Movies ($0.94)
  • Maps ($3.04)

If Yahoo was to buy the same amount of traffic using Google AdWords as it gets currently from Organic results each month on just Google.

  • eMail ($22,250,025)
  • Mail ($68,246,500)
  • News ($29,648,850)
  • Sport ($7,444,640)
  • Finance ($39,431,840)
  • Web Hosting ($8365,700)
  • Games ($61,089,840)
  • Movies ($31,041,150)
  • Maps ($10,519,600)

Note: To make the task more transparent we using Google.com as the source and Google AdWords as the ppc solution for the statistics, so Yahoo should not have preferential treatment in search results but still manages to rank better than some of the more well known websites in each area.

You can see in the above image that all these properties have been linked with keyword friendly text to be ranked highly for the generic term, if you can get ranked for a generic term this is a smart idea.  If Yahoo failed seo following how many businesses do seo they would have used the following text for the backlinks.

  • Yahoo Mail
  • Yahoo News
  • Yahoo Sport
  • Yahoo Finance
  • Yahoo Small Web Hosting
  • Yahoo Games
  • Yahoo Movies
  • Yahoo Maps

All of these are the actual Yahoo product names but they still are focused around a keyword friendly name.  Yahoo has made the decision long ago to not complicate the issue and call their finance product “Fuzzy Ducks” or their news product “Reading Material”.  Yahoo is a great example of how you can extend your brand and benefit from the spill over traffic between generic keywords and brand searches.

The point is that Yahoo has enough trust, content and link weight to be ranked highly for generic terms, but a number of smaller websites need to look a picking terms that relate to their brands,trademarks or business name.  Once they have secured #1 results for these they can then branch out to cover related terms, and continue to expand as they reach targets.  Among a number of internal and external activities such as sponsorship and PR activities Yahoo also spends millions of content development, online partnerships which help build and encourage backlinks.

What about being ranked #1 for just a single keyword?

There is no point spending all your resources to try and be ranked #1 for a single generic keyword unless you have the resources to support a large seo and link building project.  Another perspective is to change away from a vanity view of trying to be ranked #1 for the keyword “seats” when a majority of searches use multiple keywords and you only sell Holden car seats. Also if you are going down the process of link building you need to ensure that you don’t start spamming the search engines by having all your links screaming a single keyword or phrase “matt cutts rank me higher!”

Why can Yahoo rank highly for generic terms?

Yahoo is able to avoid a number of the typical rules around choice of keyword based on competitors because of its strong online presence, but you will notice there are a number of other generic terms such as Jobs or Travel that Yahoo has made a business decision to not yet challenge for #1. Its not all black hat as Yahoo has the benefit of trusted domains, rich content websites and a very large network of relevant and trusted websites.

NRMA limits online insurance quotes

NRMA is one of the largest insurance companies in Australia, so you could assume that they would be proactive and flexible with their online quotes.  While looking at Travel Insurance for a recent conference trip, NRMA was one of the many companies I considered contacting to get a travel insurance quote. The screenshot below shows the reasons that I did not contact NRMA, my agency is based in the state of Queensland so I did not proceed with the quote process because Queensland was not an option or was most of Australia.

The screenshot also shows that the online quote is limited to Australian residents living NSW/ACT but if there is only two options why not just have a check box?

NRMA has fairly proactive in search optimisation campaigns, ranking #6 for the highly competitive search term “travel insurance” so why be so aggressive if they are going to limit their insurance quote platform to only 1 state and 1 territory?

The note that is partly covered by the drop down menu advises that the product is also not available to residents of Victoria, but it would be more useful to advise that the policy is only available to residents of ACT & NSW.  When you move the mouse over the text it appears to be a link but does not redirect you to page that explains what residents of Victoria should do, this would likely reduce the number of potential leads lost.

NRMA is not a small company and should have the resources to examine a better way to display the information or use geobased IP redirects to the relevant websites that deal with visitors who are not from NSW, ACT or Tasmania.  It is interesting that the footer of the webpage advises that they provide insurance in states including Tasmania but its not option in the insurance quote form.  So this would point to a failure in business process and a lack of understanding about online marketing and where their visitors come from.

If you read the fine print at the bottom of the website you can see the 3 links which advise visitors of the correct website to visit if they are not from ACT/NSW.  The information provides direct links for visitors from other states and territories such as Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, but interestingly leaves out any mention of Victoria and the Northern Territory.  For any Australian company to be so vague and general in details about our states and territories does not demonstrate an understanding that a market exists outside of NSW.

Compared to a number of their competitors, the online quote form is not intuitive or easy to use and it is likely they are losing a number of leads because visitors leave and try and different website for a quote.  The important elements to understand is that you cannot limit what geographic regions visitors your website by choosing to only show in organic results for one city or state, if you want to do this look at Google AdWords Campaigns or Facebook Ads.  Organic results as a result of a successful link building campaign will drive traffic from a whole number of regions and there are ways to monetise that traffic that you cannot convert such as Victorian residents.

Campaign optimisation tips for Christmas

Leading up to Christmas can often mean a downturn in visitors to many business websites as companies wind down marketing and employees spend more time on eBay and Amazon than working. If you have noticed a drop in clicks it might be the time to examine how the content placement can compliment your existing campaigns.

The benefit of a content placement campaign is that you can reach many of these sites of interest visited by bored employees and can be very cost effective compared to traditional search campaigns. It might be also an idea to examine how a specific holiday campaign landing page can drive that extra boost in business leads and sales. Just because your competitors have wound down their marketing and given for 2009, there is no reason you should follow. If business has slowed down, we suggest setup a specific holiday campaign and landing page offering discounts for 2010 that are purchased before 31st December 2009.

The typical Christmas downturn also presents a massive opportunity for savvy business to use this time to review their existing campaigns with a more in-depth online marketing audit, we offer hourly web marekting support packages for specific online marketing assistance. Ensure that your campaign is up to date and covers any services you plan to introduce in 2010 and examine if you can add conversion tracking to get better campaign ROI. Starting your 2010 campaigns refreshed and organised can mean next year will ensure that you start ahead of your competition and ready!

Travel Agents don’t target cheap flights

Recently a leading UK travel site Flyglobespan.com went bust stranding thousands of passengers throughout Europe, which I would have assumed would have lead to a spike in search traffic for “cheap flights” but checking Google insights for search showed over the last 30 days a drop in the Travel category. With a monthly estimate in the UK of 5,000,000 searches a month it is the top search term none of the high street travel agencies are shown.

The only airlines who feature in the top 10 results for “cheap flights” are EasyJet #4 and FlyBe #10 but many airlines buy traffic around this term using Google AdWords such as BritishAirways, AirCanada and EgyptAir for around $2.50/click.  If travel agents want to increase their share of the travel market they need to ensure that they are visible in the search results for high travel terms such as “cheap flights”.

While it is likely that this is not a high conversion keyword that leads to guaranteed sales, it is likely to be a keyword used early in the decision making process which can guide the final purchase decision.

Checking how travel agents and airlines performed in even higher profile searches such as “flights” with 25,000,000 searches/month in the UK shows a little more hope for airlines but a failure from travel agents to capture any of this traffic.  Along with social media feed and news results showing the top 10 results for “flights” are FlyBe #3, EasyJet #5 and BritishAirways #6.  Again a number of airlines such as BritishAirways, Continental, and Lufthansa are buying traffic with Google AdWords at around $1.90/click.

With the massive spike in prices for air travel leading up to Christmas, I would expect to see more of the known travel agencies shown in the organic search results considering the sheer volume of traffic.  The leader in the market appears to be CheapFlights.co.uk who also features #1 in the organic results and #1 of the AdWords results for “cheap flights” for most air travel related searches.  This makes it clear that their online marketing team understand the value of search to their business and have invested resources to ensure they have volume.  Once you have sufficient volume you can then examine improved returns using complex multivariate conversion optimisation.

What was interesting is that compared to the travel sector from the 15th December the Travel category actually grew bucking the trend of falling interest in cheap flights. Still around 75% of the searches were for Air Travel with the remainder of interest going to Vacation Destinations & Hotels/Accommodations subcategories of Travel. What this does show that air travel still represents a massive portion of the market and likely an important area for early cross-selling of add-ons such as destination activities and accommodation.

It is likely that many of the high street travel agencies missed out on the spike in bookings with the collapse of FlyGlobespan and this money has gone direct to the affiliates, wholesaler’s and airlines direct.  It is likely that “cheap flights” is one of the many terms that stranded passengers used when trying to return home after the company collapsed.  Another popular term that would have been used would be “domestic flights” as travellers look to get as close to home as possible.  Even the use of Google AdWords advising of offers of rescue for stranded passengers such as EasyJet’s “special rescue fee” of 60 pounds for Flyglobespan passengers stuck in France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal or Balearic Islands would have made sense. There are a number of interesting books around Aviation marketing that if you work for a travel company in their online marketing area I suggest that you read if you want to learn more.

If you are one of those who had booked with FlyGlobespan they have advised in the event that you do wish to make your own travel arrangements, some carriers are offering special fares to Globespan passengers:

  • BMI Baby – 0844 245 0055
  • Easyjet – 0871 244 2366
  • FlyBe – 0871 700 2000
  • Ryanair – 0871 246 0000
  • Jet2.com – 0871 226 1737